Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova Preview, Dubai DFTC Final

Final: (1) Simona Halep vs (17) Karolina Pliskova

A first time champion will be crowned on Saturday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. First time finalists in Dubai, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will go head to head for the first time in their careers in what promises to be a highly competitive match between two in form young ladies.

Simona Halep has improved match by match this week in Dubai. The top seed eased through her opening two matches, thumping a fatigued Daniela Hantuchova 6-2 6-0 before strolling past Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4 6-3. The Romanian was forced to work much harder for her next two victories, fighting past Ekaterina Makarova 6-3 1-6 7-5 in a highly competitive quarter-final before coming from a set down to defeat Caroline Wozniacki.

Simona Halep advanced to her second final of the year with a relatively comfortable 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory over a wayward Caroline Wozniacki in friday’s second semifinal. Simona made a poor start to the match, hitting 16 unforced unforced errors in an untidy opening set. The Romanian finally found her range in the second set as Wozniacki’s level dramatically deteriorated. Simona running away with the match as the Dane finished the match with an uncharacteristically high 26 unforced errors to just 11 winners.


Simona will need to play much better tennis if she is defeat an in form Karolina Pliskova on Saturday. The top seed didn’t serve particularly well in her victory over Wozniacki, broken several times and hitting only 2 aces. A similar serving performances against Karolina will leave her in enormous trouble.

Karolina Pliskova has had an outstanding week in Dubai, reaching a career high ranking of world number 12. Pliskova has continually defied the odds, causing three upsets in a row to reach her second premier level final of the year.

Karolina cruised through her opening two matches this week, recording straight set victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. The hard hitting Czech then battled past both Ana Ivanovic and Lucie Safarova in tight three set encounters.

Karolina’s best victory of the week came in the semifinals where she recorded an extremely hard fought 6-4 5-7 7-5 victory over fellow young gun, Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard seemed to be in control of the match in the third set, creating several chances to break Karolina’s serve. However as has so often been the case this week, Karolina saved some of her best tennis for when she was break point down, saving all five break points she was faced with.

Serving for the match at 6-5 in the final set, Karolina found herself down 0-40. The ever cool Czech didn’t panic, calmly saving three break points before going on to serve out the match.


This will be the first ever encounter between Simona and Karolina, the first of many. The contrast in styles should lead to fascinating final between two of the tours most in form players.

Karolina’s form this week has been the more impressive, Karolina has defeated five quality opponents, the bigger the challenge, the better she has played. Simona has done what she has had to do, the Romanians biggest challenge of the week came in the quarter-finals against Makarova, apart from that Simona has been relatively untroubled.

The biggest question mark leading into this match is, how much energy does Karolina have left? It’s been a long three weeks for the her, playing Fed Cup in Canada before reaching the semi-finals in Antwerp and now playing 5 matches in testing Dubai heat. Simona is undoubtedly the fresher of the two.

I have written Karolina off twice this week, I’m not going to make the same mistake again here. Karolina has played outstanding tennis this week and is arguably the form player on tour.

The powerful Czech certainly has the game to trouble Simona, her serve has been extremely hard to crack this week and her return game has been just as impressive. Simona’s serve will sit up for Karolina and I think she will be able to break enough times to prevail and claim the biggest title of her career.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Simona Halep in 2 sets

0 responses to “Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova Preview, Dubai DFTC Final”

          • That are the highest odds possible to this match and you say it’s not outrageos. Ok, that is backing an exhausted underdog to undercut a fresher 1st seeded.
            That’ s a bit odd at least I would say , perhaps even disrespectful.
            I’d say that Halep will take at least one set if not two…

          • well I’m entitled to my opinion, I’m sorry that you think it’s disrespectful but that’s what I think.
            I’m going to assume Pliskova is right to play and if that is the case I think she will win as she is too powerful,simple as that

  1. She cannot hit the ball so well on the run. If Halep succeeds in making Karo running for her shots it will be soon over.
    Pliskova will succumb from fatigue or too many unforced errors.
    It is crucial how the match starts too.
    If Simona puts pressure right at the beginning, the big serve von Pliskova will fade.
    As against Muguruza when she was really in trouble throughout the second set, in the third too but the end that was lucky for her.

    • Well it’s okay to try and get her on the run but that’s not always possible. Her serve is still stronger than Halep’s, Simona’s serve isn’t too great under extreme pressure and Pliskova cane destroy it. Simona is no certainty.

      • But Pliskova is even less from a certainty. Halep can adjust to different opponents, Pliskova has only one game centered on serve. Kind of servobot.
        I trust the ability of Halep to asses the edges during a match. Ok when the opponent is too strong that helps little, against Serena, Sharapova etc.
        But my take is that Pliskova doesn’t really have a play of her own and cannot whitstand longer rallies. It’s about serve and one or two ball exchanges afterwards and she’s done.
        She cannot build up a point progressively like most Top 10 players do. Perhaps in the future sometime. For now is just all or nothing for her in 2 or 3 shots.
        If the rallies are getting longer she’ll be a victim of not reaching to the ball or hit unforced errors.
        Will see tommorow, but Pliskova in two is way out of a honest prediction. It goes against all what WTA and rankings and experience stands for.
        It’s overreacting.

        • To say Pliskova can’t construct a point is totally wrong, have you watched her play this week? Today she saved a critical break point in very long rally with a forehand winner.

          I agree that Halep is and deserves to be considered the favourite. I never said Pliskova was a certainty, I just think she will win.

  2. What haters hahaha. I’m with you wtaaddict. Pliskova for the major W. I think pliskova will out do her. We’re allowed to say that people, u just don’t agree, screw odds. Anythings possible.

      • I really think she was evermore underestimated from her opponents this tournament. Nobody took her seriously, including Muguruza yesterday. The spaniard thaught the whole match that her average play will suffice.
        There was the totally surprising way the last two games unfolded that made the difference. I don’t credit Pliskova too much for that cuz’ Muguruza made a handful of UE. Being tired for making it to the semis at doubles too.
        I cannot say that Halep will destroy Pliskova because of the difference in physics. But i expect for her to do so.

        • Pliskova has beaten: Azarenka, Kerber, Safarova (2), Ivanovic and Muguruza this yea, I don’t think anyone is underestimating her

  3. I think Pliskova executed her plan really well to dictate Muguruza at the baseline. The games were ugly but the objective was to limit Muguruza movements at the net. People didn’t realize that Pliskova can hit the ball close to the baseline and it is very difficult to for her opponents to make shot. Because she hits so hard, her opponents usually do the running instead of her.

    For tonight, the only concern is her physical condition. I am sure she will feel very tired. Furthermore she has to play five matches to reach the final as oppose to Halep three matches in total.

    To be honest, Halep is not unbeatable. If someone can hit the balls hard and flat to both corners of the court, Halep will have trouble like Caro did to her in the first set but she couldn’t sustain due to her knee injury. Going forward, I foresee many players will do this to Halep very often. My question is how long can Halep runs around the court? I am sure her energy level has certain limits, right?

    Frankly speaking, I know everyone is saying Halep will walk in the park to win this. Based on the tournament statistics, Pliskova does have some chances alive going into final I actually bet $20 on her to win. Even I lose, I will be very happy…but God knows!

  4. Well I totally agree with you that Pliskova has a potential to beat Halep in straight sets. Her serve and styles can outdo those of halep. But anyway I would have liked to see Muguruza vs halep.

    • Yes that was my preferred final too! It was a shame Garbine couldn’t get over the line as she seemed to be in control of the match throughout the third set 🙁

  5. Totally enjoyed the exchanges here.

    Big supporter of Simona, so in the heart would love to have her win this title, but my money is on Karo in 3 sets… unless Karo suffers from fatigue and muscle cramps.

    I have not seen all matches of Simona, but I have still not seen her win in those matches where the big-servers serves very well and uses power play.

    The good thing is she is getting closer to finding a tactical plan/s against the power players (MUG, Karo, Markova, Keys, Serena, Maria) but she still has not gotten the formula yet. But from the QF and SF, certainly I could see her getting stronger mentally and doing better in edging these matches out. Henin found a way, I can’t wait for her to find hers. Other players like Kei also found a way with Raonic. There is also higher unforced error in this tournament as she seems trying new things with the new coach.

    It will be nice to see Simona win, but Karo has nothing to prove to lose after having this great run. So I tend to weigh on Karo.

    So what I will be looking out for tonight is to see if/how Simona change her tactical plans (A, B, C..) to try win in a situation where she just cannot return Karo’s serves. That, for me, would be worth me staying up till 2-3am tonight 😉

    ps. thanks for this delightful blog.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words 🙂

      You seem to be thinking along the same lines as me with this match, unless Karolina is extremely fatigued I think she will win! You are right about Halep, she often struggles against powerful players with big serves and punishing groundstrokes, Pliksova undoubtedly has ability to dominate Simona. It will be an interesting match for sure.

      • What a final. Kudos to Karo… and I had actually wondered if the final would top the 3rd of Simona’s QF and Karo’s SF.
        Of course, totally impressed by Simona’s focus on raising her Return Serve quality. If she can continue to keep that focus, she will get better there and avoid the frequency of being blown off by the power players in future. This year’s women’s tennis seems so promising… wishing more matches in the Asia timezone… urghhh… 😉

        • Yes the state of the WTA tour right now is so strong, the strongest it has ever been IMO! Dubai was a great tournament, hopefully Doha is just as good this week, some great first round matches 🙂

    • Perhaps Halep playing short slices just over the net? That Karo could not reach, not to mention her absolute lack of playing by the net.
      It will be a batlle between physics and witts. I’l take the witts at any given day. Although one should give always a preemption of success to the stronger one.
      It’ only my take on that.

  6. Going to the final, I am very sure everyone is expecting Halep to win. Sometimes, it is good to be an underdog. This will help to release tension and play freely. I don’t doubt about Karo’s mental state but more on her physics.

    If Karo can sustain Halep for half of her first set and continue to serve strong to frustrate Halep then we have a match. Frankly speaking, the weather is dropping to 22C and I expect the balls to be a little bit heavier than normal in favor of Karo. Halep could return well because Woz and Kate did not hit hard enough or similar velocity than what Karo can do. I guess Halep will also try to hit very hard and I see many balls probably go long (i.e. AO 2015 QF). Halep will also probably have higher DB percentage because she tries to serve out wide to dictate Karo’s movements.

    Halep’s probability of winning almost surely is higher than Karo. However, anything can happen when it comes to probability. I think Karo will benefit from this match to measure her current state against the top 10. For Halep, she can never find a formula to beat heavy hitters. Henin did it because one handed backhand can flip the ball faster than double backhand. What Karo has to do is to hit hard and flat to both ends of the court and we will see……

    I am going to enjoy this match with a glass of red wine cheering for both ladies though I bet on Karo to win.

      • I agree. It was a very good match. I think Pliskova must be pleased with her performance after all she has to deal with fatigue issues.

        I also see your point if a fit Pliskova plays Halep in the future. Based on this match, I really believe Pliskova can beat Halep.

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